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High Learning Potential: Reality and Myth
N.B. Potential Plus UK prefers to use the term High Learning Potential (HLP) instead of 'gifted'. Children with High Learning Potential (HLP) need their families, schools, and society in general to have a realistic understanding of what an HLP child is, and perhaps most importantly, is not. The reality is that:
  • The distinguishing feature shared by all HLP children is asynchronous development. Asynchronous development is the process whereby the intellect develops faster and further than other attributes such as social, emotional and physical development.
  • HLP children enjoy learning at a much faster pace.
  • HLP children can process information to a much greater depth.
  • HLP children can be quite intense at times! Especially in terms of energy (high), imagination (vivid), intellectual ability (high), sensitivity (high) and emotion (high). The level of this intensity is not experienced by the general population and can be a reason why parents, teachers and children find an HLP child 'different', 'odd', 'quirky' or 'weird'. Certainly, in this respect, they are in a minority of the general population, so they are the 'odd ones out', but by no means alone when it comes to socialising with other HLP children.
  • HLP children are often perfectionists and idealists and may equate achievement and grades with self-esteem and self-worth. This can lead to fear of failure and can interfere with their achievement in and out of school.
  • When boredom takes over in school, an HLP child experiences low achievement and grades.
  • HLP children often think in the abstract and with such complexity that they may need help with study and test taking skills. They can often justify all the answers in a multiple choice question, or skip reading test instructions because they are impatient; again resulting in underachievement.
  • HLP children who do well in school may define success as getting an A*, and failure as any grade less than an A*. By early adolescence they may be unwilling to try anything where they are not certain of guaranteed success
  • HLP children benefit from learning together and being placed with similar students in their areas of strength.
  • When HLP children are provided with consistent appropriate academic challenge, they tend to be more comfortable with themselves, and others.
  • HLP children enjoy friendships with others who share their interests and learning style. This is most likely to occur with intellectual age peers, regardless of chronological age.
Now, here are some myths:
  • All HLP children are high achievers; they don't have to work hard for exam success.
  • HLP children can accomplish anything they put their minds to; they just have to apply themselves and it will come naturally.
  • HLP children don't need help with study skills; they can manage on their own and are highly organised and focussed.
  • HLP children have fewer problems than others; they do not need or deserve extra time and attention from either parents or teachers.
  • HLP children are self-directed, motivated and have high aspirations for themselves.
  • HLP children will reveal their 'gifts' in school and will want to emphasise them.
  • HLP children enjoy serving as examples for other children.
  • There is no such thing as an HLP underachiever.
  • An HLP child's family always recognises his or her potential.
  • HLP children need to serve as examples to others and they should always assume extra responsibility.
Our Education Consultants can help with further advice on our Information & Advice Service (tel 01908 646433). We also have a number of helpful Fact Sheets and Advice Sheets which can be found in the Resource section of this website.
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